‘Twas the day after Thanksgiving, when all through downtown; everybody was whirling, through yonder roundabout.
Decorations hung by the streetlights with cheer, getting ready for Dickens Holiday that year. The people were dressed up in Victorian attire; with visions of hopefully not getting a flat tire.
For the last twenty-three years, A Dickens Holiday has been a yearly event for the people of Fayetteville.
Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, our historic downtown becomes abuzz with the sounds of canes clacking on concrete, town crier bells and Victorian era British accents.
Being a celebration of A Christmas Carol, the spirit of the holiday, and local business, the Dickens festival is an annual tradition in the town that aims at connecting the local community through good cheer and festivities.
This year, Up & Coming Weekly was able to catch up with Dr. Hank Parfitt, a founder of A Dickens Holiday, about this year’s upcoming celebration.
Speaking candidly, Parfitt was able to express those visions of sugar plums and holiday cheer that we all hope to look forward to every Christmas season.
With topics such as the future of the Dickens Holiday, ways to get the next generation involved, and the meaning behind A Christmas Carol, Parfitt shared with U&CW his views and history with A Dickens Holiday as well as his Christmas spirit.
A Dickens Holiday is a local event that takes place every year in Fayetteville the day after Thanksgiving as a pseudo-Christmas celebration for the town.
The theme and aesthetics of the festival are based on the Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol.
Each year, people throughout the town dress up in era-appropriate attire, self-made costumes, and as characters from the book or movie to go around downtown Fayetteville and spread good tidings and cheer to those who choose to celebrate with them.
Many of the local shops take part in the event as well. While the size and scale of the event has fluctuated, the crowd has remained, and year after year the people around town continue to come out in support of A Dickens Holiday and each other.
This idea of Christmas cheer and communal support isn’t merely fiction, though. Parfitt spoke about how he felt the event gave people the opportunity to get to know one another and share in the spirit of the holiday.
But what does that mean, exactly?
Charles Dickens had what some believe to be a clear vision of the spirit of the holidays.
“It’s about a man who rediscovers his humanity,“ said Parfitt. “Charles Dickens was trying to show people that we need to treat each other with kindness and respect. There really is this magical feeling of Dickens. When we’re down here on A Dickens Holiday we really feel like a community.”
Having caught the Christmas itch, U&CW dove deeper in to the origin of A Dickens Holiday to find out how and where exactly it was started.
Finding that the first ever Dickens holiday took place in Broadstairs, England, U&CW was surprised to find that A Dickens Holiday is not just a single event our city puts on.
A Dickens Holiday is an international event that happens independently from one another all over the world.
Indeed, each year, at different places across the globe, towns, local communities, and other cities are putting on their own versions of the Dickens festival to celebrate together and spread the Christmas spirit, if only just for the holiday season.
In a way, when we celebrate together each year in our city, we are celebrating with communities, people and groups from corners of the world we’ve never seen.
Parfitt went on to talk about the attraction of the sense of community born from A Dickens Holiday that becomes shared with those who may only visit our city on the holidays to visit friends or relatives.
Parfitt noted that, because A Dickens Holiday is such a community driven event, the experience garnered here is completely unique and special to our city.
Truly, A Dickens Holiday is the after-Thanksgiving-meal-Christmas-dessert we should all be looking forward to.
However, now comes the hardest part about Thanksgiving dinners these days: putting down our phones.
With the growing concern for degrading communication skills in Generation Z and A, the question remains of how to address growing issues in these younger generations such as social anxiety, lack of sense of community, and lack of self worth.
Dickens Holiday, being a completely community driven event, aims to address these matters with the very core of its philosophy.
When asked about the advice he wanted to give to the youth in town who may be struggling with these issues, Parfitt had this to say.
“Best way to not be afraid is to get outside of yourself. Talk to someone who you may not know that well. Talk about some of the things you do have in common. You don't have to talk to someone long to find out you have a lot more in common than that which would set you apart.”
Parfitt continued, “A lot of us have forgotten how to talk to other people. It’s a skill, and, if you don’t practice, you won’t be any good at it! Don’t be afraid to get outside of yourself, talk to other people, find out that you do have a lot in common, and then you'll find you can share these experiences.”
This year’s A Dickens Holiday looks to have no shortage of entertainment either. Parffit also mentioned plans for many of the upcoming attractions, shows and enjoyment to be had
during the event.
Local llamas looking festive, musical performers, Nutcracker ballet performances from local children and a costume walk are all things to look forward to. There will even be members of the Downtown Alliance dressed up as characters from the novel.
With everything U&CW has been told is in store, we can’t wait to come out and celebrate the meaning of Christmas with all those attending.
For those inclined, the registration for new performances, volunteers, craft vendors and food vendors is still open.
If you are interested in applying for any of these options, or would like to know more, you can find more information on their website at https://www.faydta.com/adickensholiday/, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.